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Open Access An Inter-Comparison of Two Black Carbon Aerosol Instruments and a Semi-Continuous Elemental Carbon Instrument in the Urban Environment

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Aerosol absorption coefficients were obtained using two versions of the Magee Scientific Aethalometer and a Particle Soot Absorption Photometer (PSAP) in Riverside, California during July and August of 2005. These measurements were subsequently compared to each other and to hourly elemental carbon (EC) mass concentrations as determined by a Sunset Labs semi-continuous OCEC analyzer. Measurements from all four instruments were shown to be highly correlated (R2 = 0.83 to 0.92). Differences between absorption values measured by the PSAP and the Aethalometer were found to be dominated by differences in the filter media used by the respective instruments. Comparison of optical and thermal measurements revealed that the specific attenuation cross section (ATN) of light absorbing carbon (LAC) varied as a function of the time of the day, most notably during weekdays. Minimum ATN values were observed during morning rush hour when EC concentrations were at their greatest and maxima were seen in the late afternoon. These variations correlated with changes in the OC/EC ratio and the Angstrom exponent for absorption, which is consistent with changes in the mixing state of elemental carbon associated with secondary aerosol condensation on primary EC particles.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Environmental Chemistry and Technology Program, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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